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Excessive diet soft drink consumption is associated with the occurrence of liver disease

0 6 months ago

In a recent article published in BMC Public Health, researchers explore the association between diet soft drink intake and metabolic dysfunction-associated steatotic liver disease (MASLD) using National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES) data.

Background

MASLD is one of the most common chronic liver diseases whose incidence rate is increasing at an alarming rate globally. Currently, diet control and physical exercise are the only two modes for prevention and treatment of MASLD in the absence of its drug treatment.

They act by reducing body fat, which alleviates or reverses liver steatosis. Similarly, there could be diets that increase the risk of MASLD.

Diet soft drinks that market themselves as “zero calories” contain artificial sweeteners such as aspartame. Studies have shown that adolescents’ consumption increases body mass index (BMI).

Pediatric metabolic dysfunction-associated steatotic liver disease (MASLD),  formerly known as nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) - Mayo Clinic

About the study

In the present study, researchers used detailed records of diet and soft drink intake of 2,378 participants of the 2003–2006 NHANES, a National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) sponsored survey program assessing the general health and nutritional levels of the general American population, for the assessment of MASLD status based on their Fatty Liver Index (FLI).

Furthermore, they conducted a mediation analysis to assess whether BMI partly or completely explained this relationship. They calculated the proportion of the mediated effect as the ratio of the mediated (indirect) to the total (direct) effect, multiplied by 100% to show the extent to which BMI mediated the relationship between diet soft drink intake and MASLD.

Results

Of 2,378 individuals meeting the inclusion criteria of this study, males accounted for a higher proportion than females in the MASLD group, and both groups also had significantly different ages and BMI.

The frequency of diet soft drink intake was higher in the MASLD group than the non-MASLD group, with the most significant association observed between the “always” frequency of diet soft drink intake and MASLD.

The results also highlighted that compared to the non-MASLD population, the MASLD population had significantly higher BMI despite no statistical difference in energy intake.

Conclusions

Based on the analysis of nationally representative data, this study estimated a slightly higher (43.64%) weighted prevalence rate of MASLD than prior epidemiological studies, which demonstrated that excessive diet soft drink intake was associated with MASLD, where BMI plays a mediating role in this association.

This data could provide valuable dietary recommendations for MASLD prevention and treatment.

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